Nancy Navarro

Nancy Navarro is the first Latina councilmember on the Montgomery County Council. She was first elected to the Council in a special election in 2009 and re-elected to a four-year term in 2010. Since 2010, she has chaired the Government and Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and presently serves on the Education and Culture Committee. Last year, she was elected Council President for the second time in her Council tenure.

President Barack Obama appointed Nancy to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2011, where she served on the Early Childhood Education Committee. Most recently, she was elected to serve as Co-Vice President of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on which she has been a Board member since 2014.

Nancy has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Maryland State Department of Education’s Women Who Dare Leadership Award; the U.S. Hispanic Youth Entrepreneur Education’s Hispanic Hero Award; the Montgomery County Business and Professional Women Association’s Women of Achievement 2007 Award; the Community Teachers Institute’s Heart of the Community Award; the 2009 and 2013 Maryland’s Top 100 Women Award; the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Elected Local Government Official of the Year Award; and the 2017 Crittenton Leadership Award. In 2019, Nancy was named for the second time to Washington Magazine’s List of Most Powerful Woman in the Washington metro area in local politics and government.

Tara R. Palacios

Tara Palacios is the Director of BizLaunch, Arlington’s Small Business and Entrepreneurial Assistance Network in Arlington County, Virginia. Tara initiated the BizLaunch program in 2002 to help entrepreneurs successfully grow and expand their businesses in the county. Since its inception, the program has reached out to over 50,000 business owners through sponsored workshops, seminars, and one-on-one counseling sessions.

Tara has over 20 years of experience in Marketing and Business Development at a variety of firms -- a health maintenance organization, an IT software developer, a financial institution, and a uranium enricher -- before joining Arlington County in 2001. She holds a Bachelor’s of Art degree from Baltimore and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Leadership Arlington and received her Certification in Public Management from the Council of Government’s Institute for Regional, the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Political Science and Journalism. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Marketing Communications from Johns Hopkins University in Excellence.

Rania Anderson

Rania Anderson transforms the way women and men work, lead and succeed together. She is an author, international keynote speaker and an executive business coach. She is also the co-founder of a women's Angel investor network of 45 women investors who invest equity in high-growth women-led businesses.

As an international keynote speaker, Rania has spoken to thousands of entreprenurial women and men worldwide at conferences, universities and corporations including executives and teams at Fortune 100 companies including PepsiCo, Bank of America, P&G, GE, GM, Microsoft, PwC.

She is the author of "WE: Men, Women, and The Decisive Formula for Winning at Work," a cutting-edge guide for men, managers and leaders to recruit, retain, advance and lead with women and "Undeterred: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies."

Wilma Jones

Wilma Jones is an award-winning blogger, author, popular speaker and positivity expert helping people improve their lives personally and professionally, using the Science of Happiness. She has studied under Valorie Burton at the Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute and at the University of California’s Greater Good Science Center.

Wilma has been featured in the Washington Post Business.com section and a contributing blogger at Huffington Post. She’s delivered hundreds of authentic, energetic presentations to help employees, managers and business owners up their game to Live Happier at Work by driving increased revenue, better focus and a healthier work environment.

Carol Roth

Carol Roth is a former investment banker, investor, entrepreneur behind the Future File® legacy planning system, business advisor, content creator, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Entrepreneur Equation." Carol has been a reality TV show judge on Mark Burnett’s America’s Greatest Makers, media contributor to outlets ranging from CNBC to MSNBC to Fox Business, and host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy and The Roth Effect podcasts. She is a weekly panelist on Bulls & Bears on Fox Business, among other shows.

Carol is recognized internationally as a business expert and has worked with startups and the biggest companies and brands in the world on everything from strategy to content creation and marketing to billions of dollars in capital raising and transactional work.

She is a also former public company director (NASD: TZOO), a private technology company director, a brand influencer and advisor, a sought-after speaker and moderator, and is a noted small business advocate, having been named a Top 100 Small Business Influencer for five consecutive years. She has also acted as an outsourced Chief Customer Officer via a JV for a branded consumer company for more than a decade and has an action figure made in her likeness.

Denita R. Conway

Denita Conway is the President and Visionary behind the award-winning real estate and facility management firm, Proven Management, LLC. As an adept leader, Denita has successfully trained her 100+ employees on navigating through stringent protocols and politically charged red tape to get the job done on time and on budget. A testament to the company's success is reflected in their high-profile clients including the White House, FBI, GSA, among others.

In 2018, Denita was named SBA Small Business Person of the Year and in 2015, Woman Contractor of the Year by American Express Open in Procurement. She successfully marries her passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development, and motivational speaking to shift the paradigm for single moms who aspire to reach their highest potential, through her nonprofit, the Conway Foundation. However, her greatest accomplishment is having built a legacy for her two adult daughters, who are intricately involved in a "Proven" solution that works.

Elma Levy

Elma Levy is the Co-founder of Dovel Technologies, a McLean-based Health IT Government contracting firm, and Founder of Coach to Strength, LLC, a Bethesda-based coaching and mentoring firm. Elma established the corporate foundation and culture that enabled Dovel to grow from a 2-person start-up to a thriving, mature organization with over $200M in revenues. She had the vision to implement a strategy of growth through acquisition at the right time in the corporate life cycle and executed the steps to realize that vision. Elma recognized that the different phases of organizational development require different leadership styles, and brought in the team with the expertise that was right for the life cycle phase.

In May 2019, Dovel partnered with a global PE firm as part of their growth and acquisition strategy, and Elma began concentrating on her next professional career as a leadership coach and business mentor. Coach to Strength, LLC was established in 2018; the company provides leadership coaching and mentoring to organizational leaders of start-up and early rapid growth companies, as well as life-skills coaching to clients who seek clarity and guidance, primarily during transitional phases in life. She is a sought-after speaker and panelist, serves on multiple Advisory Boards, and is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Montgomery Hospice, the largest nonprofit hospice organization in Montgomery County.

Kristin Sharpe

Kristin Sharpe was the Founder and past President of ACF Solutions, an IT Services Consultancy, specialized in implementing cloud technologies to many of the nation’s top colleges, universities and the most impactful nonprofits. Kristin’s vision for ACF was to build a consulting company with a culture that valued employees and “did good while doing good work” by focusing on the higher education and nonprofit sectors. She grew ACF into a professional services firm with a nationwide presence. Under her leadership, 52% of ACF’s 131 employees were female, mostly in technical roles.

After 14 years of growth, ACF was at a strategic crossroads. Organic growth was unlikely to continue to be successful, and being acquired by a larger organization was the most promising path. Kristin successfully prepared ACF for acquisition, then marketed and sold her company to a larger consulting company. As an executive with the newly combined organization, she led the post-acquisition process integrating employees, clients, services and technology practices into a cohesive new business. After leaving the new organization, Kristin took a year off, sailing with her family throughout the Caribbean. She now serves on a number of boards and is a volunteer mentor with SCORE.

Jennifer Mulchandani

Jennifer Mulchandani is a community leader and small business champion with more than 20 years of marketing and communications experience. As an entrepreneur, she is dedicated to using business for the greater good, connecting clients to the communities they serve through cause marketing and nonprofit engagement. Jennifer founded Arlington Strategy in 2012.

Arlington Strategy is a comprehensive branding, marketing and business strategy firm. Arlington Strategy provides training and advisory services as well as ongoing marketing and communications support for small business, nonprofit, and public agency clients at every stage of growth.

Jennifer is a dynamic and engaging speaker, and is experienced in presenting a variety of marketing topics to audiences big and small. Active in her community, she serves on the Board of Directors for Bridges to Independence, and  is a member of Leadership Arlington (class of 2015), the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Arlington Women Entrepreneurs.

Diana Morales

Diana Morales started her marketing career in the world of corporate recruiting, first supporting firm partners at Lucas Group and then establishing herself as a freelance digital media marketer. From a desire to connect people socially, Lust Local was born in November 2015, and has been managing media and strategy for over five years. In the past, she has worked with brands like Greenheart Juice Shop, Marika Meyer Interiors, Wellfound Foods, Chups, and The Tavern by Sweetgreen.

Will Fuentes

Will Fuentes is a Co-founder of The Maestro Group. He empowers sales teams to maximize their potential. Will focuses on teaching both hard and soft sales skills and identifies opportunities to improve sales efficiencies. His unique background and perspective guide his training principles, and he is motivated to help individuals and organizations sell more, faster.

Will has worked for some of the largest retailers, honing his skills as a salesperson, sales leader, and innovator. Following his career in retail, he transitioned to software sales working with companies selling a wide range of software products from machine learning to backend automation. Finding success at his various stops, Will started The Maestro Group four years ago.

Will is a graduate of Virginia Tech and The George Washington University Law School. Today, he uses what he learned at both institutions to teach business owners and salespeople how to uncover information, ask better questions, and sell more. When he is not with a client or spending time with his family, he is reading I/O and Behavioral Psychology books to get a better understanding of what impedes sales.

Photo of Yael Krigman

Yael Krigman is the Founder and CEO of Baked by Yael. She raised $75k in a Kickstarter campaign, obtained a loan, and got backing from the DC cash collateral program. Yael is a recovering attorney. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Spain before starting her first career in the global law firm of White & Case. She started baking to relieve stress during law school and ultimately left her job as an international trade attorney to pursue baking full time. In 2015, Baked by Yael’s first brick and mortar shop opened across from the National Zoo and now has 3 dozen employees.

Maria Randall

Maria Randall is a Director with Firstrust Bank’s SBA Finance Group, responsible for providing SBA loans to small businesses throughout the Metropolitan Washington/Baltimore region. Prior to joining Firstrust Bank, Maria spent over 25 years in the banking industry working primarily with small businesses, providing loans and cash management services. She is an ardent advocate of the SBA’s loan programs as she has utilized them over the years to help numerous business owners start and grow their businesses, creating countless jobs along the way.

Maria obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics & Computer Science from Vassar College and graduated from Leadership Prince George’s. She is a former Chair of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Small Business Roundtable, a member of the National Association of Realtors, and has served on the board of a number of area organizations.

Marla Bilonick

Marla Bilonick is the Executive Director of the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). She came to LEDC first in 1999 as a Microloan Officer. Marla then worked for economic development organizations in New York City focusing on business recovery from the 9/11 attacks, and microfinance institutions in several Latin American countries, including her native Panama. She returned to LEDC in 2012 as its Director of Small Business Development.

As Executive Director, she leads LEDC’s regional efforts to drive the economic and social advancement of low-to-moderate income Latinos and other D.C. and Baltimore area residents by equipping them with the skills and tools to achieve financial independence. Marla has received awards and recognition for her contributions to the local Latino community and the wider DC metropolitan area.

Karlene Sinclair-Robinson

Karlene Sinclair-Robinson is the Assistant Director of the Business Finance Center at Community Business Partnership (CBP), a sponsored program of the Mason Enterprise Center. After many years as a CBP client and volunteer, Karlene joined the Center in April 2012 as its Director. She facilitates clients’ requests for financial review, financing needs, loan packaging and counseling services. Karlene is also an instructor of a number of CBP workshops designed to help clients through the financing process. She is also a business owner with a background in healthcare, finance, and management, and is considered a foremost expert on Alternative Business Financing. Originally from sunny Jamaica, Karlene is a bestselling author, speaker and instructor.

Nicole Geller

Nicole Geller is a Principal with the Blu Ventures Venture Capital Group, currently serves on three technology company boards and recently joined a design-build construction company board. Prior to Board Service, Ms. Geller was a Senior Director with Springer Lawson & Associates providing advisory services in growth, strategy, and M&A.

Prior to Springer Lawson, Ms. Geller was the founder and CEO of Government Contract Solutions (GCS), a professional solutions firm for the intelligence and civilian federal markets. Nicole led the Company to a successful exit in late 2014. GCS was a Washington Technology Fast 50 Company, an Inc. 5000 recognized company for five years running and Nicole was a 2014 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist. Nicole is a frequent panelist for M&A and CEO organizations.

Jenna Huntsberger

Jenna Huntsberger is the Founder and CEO of Whisked!, a fast-growing snack company making crave-able cookies with real and simple ingredients. These bakery-style cookies - vegan and conventional - have taken over the DC market. All products use high quality, clean ingredients and are full of homemade flavor, just like Mom used to make. Started at a single farmers' market in 2011, Whisked! products can now be found in regional chains like MOMs, Whole Foods, and CAVA, as well as specialty retailers throughout DC and Baltimore. Jenna is originally from Oregon. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and L’Academie de Cuisine.

Shelley Kirkpatrick

Shelley Kirkpatrick Ph.D is a Principal in Organizational Change Management at The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers for the federal government. Shelley is also the founder and CEO of Visiontelligence LLC and an adjunct professor at George Mason University. She coaches company founders to write compelling vision statements and conducts research on vision statements.

A former professor at Carnegie Mellon University and The American University, Shelley has authored more than 50 articles on effective vision statements, leadership, motivation, and organizational assessment, and she recently published Build a Better Vision Statement (2016). She holds a Ph.D. in organizational behavior and human resource management from the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland at College Park, and a B.S. in psychology from Bowling Green State University.

Shelley is Past President of the International Society for Performance Improvement’s Potomac Chapter. She is a Master (4th degree blackbelt) in Taekwondo and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two sons and two dogs.

Ronnette Meyers

Ronnette Meyers is the President and CEO of JLAN Solutions, LLC which provides a variety of services to federal agencies including acquisition, financial and business management support, information technology, and training and curriculum development. Her current clients include Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Courts, D.C. Department of General Services, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Administration.

After 12 years in public service, she spent 2 years in a small, woman-owned consultancy growing from two employees and one contract to a thriving $34M annual revenue business. She launched her own business in 2010 by both partnering with larger businesses and directly contracting with government and commercial clients.

In 2018, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce recognized JLAN Solutions as The Certified Business Enterprise of the Year. Ronnette is a 2017 Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business Scholar, a graduate of the Small Business Administration Emerging Leaders program and the Inner City Capital Connections program. In addition, Ronnette is dedicated to improving educational and financial opportunities for youth and military families by serving as a member of the board or supporter to Starz24 Foundation, Wounded Warriors, Project Giveback, Luke’s Wings, EL Haynes Public Charter School and many other charitable organizations and endeavors.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organizational development consultant, author, speaker, and business coach. Much of her career was spent in senior leadership positions with Marriott International before she led two successful start-ups—one high tech and one biotech-- before she founded The Millennium Group International, LLC—a highly successful management consulting practice. After selling The Millennium Group, she started her current consulting practice where she works with nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies on a variety of topics including generations at work, creating a respectful workplace, conflict resolution, strategic thinking, coaching for results and lots more.

Barbara is the co-author of five award winning business books including The Big Book of HR and The Manager’s Answer Book, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook, and The Conflict Resolution Phrasebook. She serves on the faculty of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Management and blogs monthly for The Association of Association Executives. She shares her expertise through her own blog and by speaking at conferences nationwide.

Sherry Hwang

Sherry Hwang is the President and Co-founder of Pyramid Systems, Inc., a leading woman owned business providing Modernization, DevSecOps, Cloud, and Analytics technology services to federal agencies. Sherry has more than 30 years of management and systems engineering experience on federal government projects. She founded Washington-based Pyramid in 1995 and employs 200. In her current role, she is responsible for leading corporate strategy, business development, client delivery, and corporate operations.

Sherry has repeatedly been recognized for her exemplary leadership abilities, entrepreneurial spirit, and philanthropic efforts. She is a Washington Business Journal Women Who Mean Business honoree, a Women in Technology Leader Awards finalist, a Robinson Alumni Entrepreneurship awardee, and an International Leadership Foundation Award recipient. She has paved the way for other minorities in business via coaching Asian American students and other minority owned businesses and sponsoring a need-based scholarship fund for international STEM students, and more.